Knowledge by Design

I have been doing some more research, reading, and thinking about this creativity-innovation-knowledge management area and am coming to the realization that to a certain extent KM by design is what I’ve been doing all along, I’m just becoming more aware of it and kicking it up a notch.

Let me explain…

What I have been doing is knowledge (management) by design, and I say that because, I’ve always believed in looking at what knowledge activities were need to meet the needs of the¬†organization¬† I’ve never said, “you need xyz technology, or you need a lessons learned process,” without understanding what the organization was trying to achieve with knowledge. I’ve always focused on the left-brain activities, the process, the activities, the technology, the information architecture, etc.

What I’m incorporating now is more right-brain thinking, which takes me and my knowledge management consulting into the innovation and creativity arena and making space for knowledge creation–ba, to use the term made familiar in Nonaka’s knowledge management work and writing.

How am I going to do that? Through having people do right-brain activities in the workshops that I run, but also by working with organizations to include more of these kinds of activities in their daily activities.

Opening up space for knowledge creation and innovation leads to enhanced productivity, collaboration, employee engagement, thought leadership, and sense of community.

This isn’t to the exclusion of lessons learned, and information architecture, etc. it’s a balancing out of both sides of the brain: the detailed, tactical with the strategic, problem solving.

Knowledge by Design.

3 thoughts on “Knowledge by Design

  • Chris Deville April 11, 2013 at 07:45 PM Reply

    Hi Stephanie,

    I’ve only been in the private sector a little over a year now…prior military…but, at least where I work, KM efforts are praised as valuable from all levels of the organization. However, there is an underlying tension I believe based on the emphasis on direct client billing. That is, after all, the source of revenue; and, all supporting activities cost. In the case of highly paid consultants, these activities can cost quite a lot.
    How would you sell this idea to the reticent C-suite guy who is not convinced of the ROI from these activities?

    Best Regards,


    • sbarnes April 11, 2013 at 08:03 PM Reply

      Hi Chris,

      ROI can be a touch issue to tackle, and I say that as an accountant in a previous/earlier career, although it was my accounting career that led me to become interested in knowledge management.

      From an accounting perspective, I was struck by the efficiencies and effectiveness that we were expected to achieve in the second and subsequent years on a client file, this really isn’t any different than what consultants and lawyers should be interested in. The difference, of course, is that the financial audits and accounting work has to be done every year, whereas consulting and legal work happens on a different schedule.

      Ultimately, whether you’re selling KM to the CEO or to a front-line staff member, it’s about figuring out what keeps them up at night and positioning KM to address those needs–the “what’s in it for me.”

      As an aside, I actually just wrote a chapter for an Ark Group report on KM and ROI, which you can find here

      I’m happy to have a longer conversation about KM and ROI if you’d like to talk off-line.

      Best Regards,

  • Stephanie Barnes April 11, 2013 at 09:12 PM Reply


    One more thought as I work my way through Daniel Pink’s “A Whole New Mind,” although it ties into my previous response, and that’s the use of story to convey the return on investment in knowledge management–for me it comes out of the “what’s in it for me,” that I mentioned earlier.

    Best Regards,

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